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Longtime IRE leader and investigative journalist dies at 83

By: Brant Houston

Jim Polk, a longtime IRE leader and member, died on July 15th in his home in Atlanta. Polk, 83, had a distinguished career as an investigative journalist in both print and broadcast, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his coverage of Watergate.

He began his career at newspapers in his home state of Indiana and went on to do award-winning work for the Associated Press, The Washington Star, NBC News and CNN. Polk graduated from Indiana University, and in 1994 he was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

Polk served as an IRE board president in the organization's formative years and was a frequent speaker at IRE conferences. He was passionate about the profession and about IRE and remained an active IRE member, serving as a contest judge and often weighing in on governance issues. In 2018, he received an IRE Founders Award for his service.

In a 2015 issue of The IRE Journal, Polk wrote a "collected wisdom" column on the practice of investigative journalism, stating: "...that is the core of what we do in journalism. It was true then, and it’s true now. It hasn’t changed. It’s the same formula: 1. Ask questions. 2. Find answers. 3. Tell the public. Yes, our delivery systems for telling the news have evolved. But our methods in pursuit of truth are simple and eternal."

There will be a private burial in Polk's hometown of Oaktown, Indiana. Condolences may be left at the funeral home website at https://www.fredrickandson.com/obituary/James-Polk .  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Indiana University, at https://www.myiu.org/.

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